02.26.2012 01:00 AM

In today’s Sun: the alternative narrative

It’s not often that a respected disciple of Reaganomics poops all over the Right, and calls on the Left to get its act together. But, last week, it happened.

Some background first.

The great global recession of 2008 — and the cataclysm of despair that it unleashed — has receded, somewhat.

But its effects are still felt all over and nowhere as much as among what we once nostalgically called “the middle class.”

Foreclosures, layoffs and broken dreams are everywhere to be seen.

Where, in the midst of all of this, have been we on the Left?

Hard to say.

Progressives have been virtually invisible, at the very time when the old dogmas and old fixes of the Right are, to many, a cruel joke.

In the midst of this, a big surprise. A neo-con icon steps up to excoriate his fellow conservatives.


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    Allisntwell says:

    Why has the left not benefitted from this? Simple really.The left does nothing to change this when they are in power. What did the Liberals under JC do to change this when they had consecutive majority govts? Nothing. Voters for the most realize this ,so when the left is not in power,the suggestion by them that wealth concentration was created or is being sustained by only the right, falls on deaf ears.

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    Philippe says:

    The left is fractured here in Canada, but they’re in a healthy place down south. Obama’s inequality message is resonating. He’s polling ahead of any Republican nominee and is looking good for re-election. It’s not all doom & gloom.

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      Michael says:

      People keep saying the left is fractured, but I am not so sure that is the case. Yes we have two progressive parties, but that is not new phenomenon.

      When the Liberals were winning majorities there were two progressive parties then as well. Why wasn’t the left fractured then? What has changed?

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        Chris says:

        The left was fractured, but the right was even more fractured.

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        Philippe says:

        I recall the Reform/Canadian Alliance party essentially “taking over” the former progressive conservative party. The ideological differences between both at the time were far greater than those of the modern day Liberal and New Democrats.

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        kenzo's says:

        I love how you state things so definitively and absolutely. And such sweeping gusto. Contrary to what you believe, this tendency does not prove any of your points and merely paints you a frightened and insecure individual.

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          kenzo's says:

          whatever the fuck that means, in your most definitive and absolute world.

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    Hannah says:

    We on the left are too busy throwing each other under the bus. We need to accept there may be policies and laws we do not favour, and we need to realize it truly is not a good idea to throw the baby out with the bath water. Look what happened in Ontario when Bob Rae implemented Rae Days. If the left had of just seen it for what this was, a necessary thing to do thus avoiding more draconian measures, we would likely not have had Mike Harris. The one thing the left is not, is cohesive. We need to realize the Conservatives are destroying Canada, and get our collectives egos in check so together, we can fight the CPC menace. Instead we take pot shots at each other, throw each other under the bus and give a ton of fuel to our natural enemies. Not exactly the smartest thing to do when both the NDP and the Liberals are down. If we truly care about Canada, we will work together to stop the destruction of our country.

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    Tim Sullivan says:

    Is Kory Teneycke saying it hard to set priorities, or just hard to have ideas, but once we have ideas, priorities come easy?

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    kenzo's says:

    I really think there is a work ethic and discipline issue above all is else here. I really think the left/ progressive/ liberal side, of which I am part, got lazy/ undisciplined/ and dare I say it, entitled. It weakened us badly when it came to both policy/issue definition and unity/ cohesion and, as has been pointed out a trillion times over by most of us, we lost our narrative.

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      kenzo's says:

      I should hasten to add, the good news is that the problem can be overcome.

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    Curt says:

    I hear all this talk about progressives but not once have i ever heard the term defined. I think the word progress means for change. However if progressives can’t define what they are now how can they change into something tomorrow?

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      Just Call me Rick says:

      If I may, Progressive is just that-progress, the best times lie ahead, toward the future, even if it takes decades to get there. Conservatism-the opposite of progressive- belives the best was at some indetermined period in the past. Progressivism lies at the heart of the common good.

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        Lawrence Stuart says:

        It’s a nice story, Gord, but it ain’t true.

        I suppose everything, in the long enough run, returns to equilibrium. But capitalism has cyclical crashes. It is part of the structural reality of the bloody system. And if you really believe that simply letting go of the steering wheel is the right choice, that ‘creative destruction’ is always going to be just a minor wobble in an otherwise smoothly humming engine of progress, I would ask you to explain what you think the collapse of Wiemar Germany, the Great Depression, and WW II were all about.

        And as far as deregulation and union bashing goes: that whole line of crap is starting to wear pretty thin with the great unwashed. They look at China and wonder if that’s what you have in mind for us.

        To mangle a great tune: “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Hu/ You ain’t gonna make it with anyone, anyhow … .”

        Do you want some protectionist, or even autarchic, nationalist movement to come to power in a major Western nation? I sure as hell don’t.

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        Just Call Me Rick says:

        Don’t distract with your idealogical pet-peeves and side shows. Conservatism anathetically opposes- justice, fair-mindedness, dignity, and a little self determination. These are concepts that I don’t expect you’re capable of hearing.

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          Philip says:

          You, Mr. Tulk.

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      Lawrence Stuart says:

      ‘Progressive’ has become more of a tagline than a coherent ideological, or even policy, position. Which is a shame, and something we progressives should strive to address. Progress (and conservatives by and large are believers in this too) to me signifies a a movement toward the ability of all individuals to maximize their potentials in the ways they see most fit.

      Many conservatives wouldn’t emphasize, or perhaps just ignore, the ‘all,’ and thus wouldn’t recognize the need, in a society as wealthy as ours, for a redistribution of wealth to achieve that end. Progressives need, I think, to emphasize the truth that we advance toward the goal of self actualization together, as a nation, and perhaps even as a species, or we don’t advance, in a sustainable and therefore meaningful way, at all. In other words, we have to re-emphasize and strongly articulate policies that affirm the link between the health of the social whole, and the prospects of the individual.

      Modern conservatism (and some forms of libertarianism) have shifted the focus of political narrative so far in favour of the individual that they have, quite literally, in the case of libertarians, lost sight of the whole in terms of economic policies. This is their greatest weakness. Our strength is to play up a more balanced approach.

      OTOH, in conservative ideologies, the idea of the whole is often sneaked in the back door via (often virulent) nationalism. Fukuyama’s essay was, I think, right to point out that it is on this point that progressives have failed to successfully, if not articulate, then perhaps to promulgate and implement, an alternative narrative.

      Internationalism (particularly of the UN variety) has been a bit of a bust. Multiculturalism, while it has worked in this country, has not taken root in Europe, nor, really, in the US.

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      Curt says:

      See Warren
      No one has yet defined progressive in a few simple words. I think many people call themselves progressive but can’t define the word.

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    william smith says:

    Having read your posts for years can you explain something that you never have explained just where do the disadvantaged come into your society? And if they do, I can understand if they don’t (lazy bastards eh?). How do you propose to maintain a “living wage” in the face of deindustrialisation due to globalisation? How do you prevent older adults slipping into greater poverty without a safetey net of OAS?

    Just wondering

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      Michael Radan says:

      “Govt should sponsor or incentiveize support programs for those who lack the means to prosper and generate sufficient wealth to live out of poverty (poverty being a very variable thing depending on where in this world you live. This line cannot be above that which able-bodied individuals earn a wage.)”

      Can you cite a government program that pays more than that which an able-bodied individual earns as a wage? I would love to know which one it is, because it certainly isn’t the $600 or so dollars a month Ontario Works pays.

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      Michael Radan says:

      What are the wages and working conditions in these right to work states?

      Are workers better off in the RTW states? Or are corporate profits booming, and the workers with no job security and lax health & safety regulations have to hope that those profits trickle down to them some day?

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      Gary says:

      Is China a RTW state?

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        Gary says:

        Foreign companies are flocking to them to take advantage of their world leading infrastructure and productive workforces.

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    Michael Radan says:

    Repeat something enough and it will be true? Deregulation has done none of the things you claim. It has worked about as well as trickle down economics.

    Can you cite an example where deregulation of the labour market has helped anyone but large corporations? Sure workers might have a job, but certainly not one that pays as well or under the conditions of one under a well regulated labour market.

    “Derugulation (sic) of environmental and commerce rules (guess who drew them up for the govt to implement) would remove the commercial trade barriers they create for the companies who dominate the sectors – (GE is the leading expert)”. But more importantly, what would environmental deregulation do for the rest of us that are not GE? We only need look to China to see what deregulation of environmental regulations would be do. China, the country that had to shut down it’s factories in advance of the 2008 Olympics so that the athletes and tourists could breathe the air in Beijing.

    What disenfranchised candidate has come forward in the US? Quite the contrary, the lifting of spending limits has led to the formation of Super PACS, and the concentration of money and influence to established mainstream candidates. Ones that end up beholden to powerful special more often than not corporate interests. What would help non-established candidates would be concrete spending limits on campaigns. Then those with the best ideas would win, not those with the most money. Contrary to what the USSC thinks, money does not equal free speech.

    “And it erases obamas and the lefts sugar daddy advantage with the unions.” You have got to be kidding. You conveniently forget to mention the Republican Party’s corporate sugar daddy. 😉 I would be willing to wager that corporate donations to the GOP outstrip union donations to Obama.

    Since 1968 the US Republican Party has had a pretty good run. Up until the Obama administration their rule has only been interrupted by Carter and Clinton, so they have had a chance to implement their deregulation, trickle down theories.

    It is the policies of the right – conservatives – that have gotten us to where we are today. For the true pursuit of life, liberty and happiness you should join ranks with liberals who have never let go of the cause. 😉

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    Michael Radan says:

    “Beware the intellect of academia”

    Always go with the gut, never trust experts or statistics. 😉

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      Philippe says:

      I agree. Policy should come from the Tim Horton’s crowd, written on napkins.

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        Bill says:

        Philippe, why put down the Tim Horton’s crowd? These people are my type of people, hard workers that built Canada.
        Your sounding like the old guard snobby liberal. This snobby lib attitude needs to go.

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        Jason King says:

        Now Bill
        You’re categorizing Phillippe, and being snotty about it yourself.

        That attempt to categorize others as something while revealing yourself to be the same needs to go.

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        Bill says:

        Nice try Jason, I’m not the one commenting on “the Tim Horton’s crowd”.
        I’m far from being a snobby elitist liberal. I’ve come from nothing and worked my butt
        off to get what I have today. I’ve been in the trenches. Have you?

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    fred says:

    Beware the pseudo-intelligence of neo-con ideologues.

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      Lawrence Stuart says:

      Or even better: Beware the foolishness of those who, because of their lack of formal training, assume themselves to be wise.

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        Lawrence Stuart says:

        Most eggheads know they know something, but also know they are not wise. The smartest people I know are acutely aware of their own ignorance.

        Wisdom, as Fukuyama would tell you, arrives only with the coming of the dusk.

        If you are interested, I’d suggest the Leo Strauss/Alexandre Kojeve correspondence, found as an appendix to Strauss’ On Tyranny. Or anything (especially Hermeneutics as Politics) by Stanley Rosen.

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          pomojen says:

          I hear you loud and clear Lawrence, In my profession, wise people say things like “I wonder about that.” and “Let’s consult with someone else who has experience” or “what does the literature say” and finally…… “The longer I do this, the less I am sure of and the more I realise I do not know.”

          Smart people are everywhere. Wise people are rare and critically important to our society, Without them we are not sufficiently grounded, principled or even visionary. There is so much more to wisdom than sheer cognitive prowess and intellectual gymnastics. Wise people know what they don’t know. They are humble, they have wide, expansive perspectives. They admit error, confusion and ignorance. They embrace the grey and contradictory. The most dangerous people – often with no conscious intent to be dangerous – are the ones who think they have it all figured out and prefer dichotomous, closed thinking. They know not what they do not know. They believe everything is knowable via their preferred schemas and inflexible ideologies. They believe they have a monopoly on “the truth”. And they exist everywhere on the political spectrum.

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    james Smith says:

    Reasonable people have been convinced of the BIG LIE of so-called Libertarianism is a valid & mainstream.
    It is not.
    Libertarianism is a deception, a fancy word for GREED. Reasonable people from all political views need to wake-up these merchants of GREED. I believe the first to identify then challenge & outline an alternative will be successful.

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    frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

    Beautiful story………..

    One afternoon Mr. Tulk was riding in his
    limousine when he saw two men along the road-side eating grass.

    Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and
    got out to investigate.

    He asked one man, “Why are you eating grass?”

    We don’t have any money for food,” the poor
    man replied. “We have to eat grass.”

    “Well, then, you can come with me to my
    house and I’ll feed you,” Mr. Tulk said.

    “But sir, I have a wife and two children
    with me. They are over there, under that tree.”

    “Bring them along,” Mr. Tulk replied.

    Turning to the other poor man he stated,
    “You may come with us, also.”

    The second man, in a pitiful voice, then
    said, “But sir, I also have a wife and SIX children with me!”

    “Bring them all as well,” Mr. Tulk answered.

    They all entered the car, which was no easy
    task, even for a car as large as the limousine was.

    Once under way, one of the poor fellows
    turned to Mr. Tulk and said, “Sir, you are too kind.”

    “Thank you for taking all of us with you.

    Mr. Tulk replied, “Glad to do it. You’ll really love my place.”

    “The grass is almost a foot high.”

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      Bill says:

      Your quite a story teller with a great imagination. You should start writing books.

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      smelter rat says:

      I think you’re being too generous to Gord with this parable.

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    Brad Young says:

    I am still waiting for GordTulk.com. You get lots of free exposure here, try your own site. Build it and they will come, I suppose.

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    patrick deberg says:


    I too notice you are very quiet on these deceptive phone calls. You seem to think a systematic and calculated descent into election subversion is nothing to comment about. As a group that has maligned us for years on hating the troops and other canards I ask what I have asked before but directly seek your reply Gord. How can you send troops to die for democracy in a foreign country and then show utter contempt for democracy in the country they swore to protect and die for? I believe a by-election must be held in every riding that can be proven to have been compromised. Do you feel that this is the only way to restore this vital principle troops have died for quite recently? If you do not please tell me you suggestion to correct this gross miscarrage of Justice. Please do not hold court with talking points Gord. I have found you to be intelligent if not misguided but this is a different horse to saddle. If you respond with utter stupidity you will be called out forever as such. Please respond, I for one want to hear your answer.

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    Chris P says:

    One of the reasons we’ve failed to capitalize is that we collectively are lacking a forum and platform for our great thinkers to collaborate and work together. The left is dis-organized on so many levels: fundraising, think tanks, knowledge transfer, party unity etc.

    The world has gone global so why hasn’t the Liberal ideal done the same? I was encouraged that Democratic Strategists from the US were at the last Liberal convention to hold a workshop but this was informal and is only a minor form of collaboration. We need to get better organized locally, nationally and globally.

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    Chris P says:

    I might also add as I’ve said before paraphrasing Bill Maher Liberals (i.e. the left) are horrible marketers. The right can talk Americans into war and talk them out of health care. We have lost the ‘bumper sticker’ war. We need to get the right message, communicate that message in the right way to the right audiences and fine-tune our rhetoric a little bit better.

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    Chris P says:

    We need this in Canada and every other industrialized and emerging country joined together creating a intellectual global powerhouse: http://www.americanprogress.org/

    The left has gotten lazy and complacent in funding centre with which people can create new ideas and communicate those ideas.

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    Conservative Socialist says:

    Call me an economic nationalist. If China can rig it’s currency and economy to leverage it’s slave labor in order to starve our industries–then I say that we reciprocate with with the same trade barriers that they erect against other countries in order to give themselves an edge.

    I’ve no problem with more open trade with countries that strive for equitable labor and environmental laws.

    I believe in regulation, but good regulation. Reagan’s anti-government message got votes because it was counter-intuitive to the dogma of the time and there were excesses being done by the government. That being said, the pendulum does need to come back.

    Grover Norquist’s maniacal anti-tax pledge is destructive. He should heed his leader’s aphorism about tax loopholes:


    The Gipper practically sounds like a progressive. Or more accurately, like a conservative socialist 🙂

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